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Does Instacart Pay You When You Don't Have Orders?

Instacart is a great option for those looking to earn some extra bucks. The work is simple and straightforward- you’ll be making money by completing orders for groceries. Some days you are bound to earn a bit more as you get more orders for grocery pickup and delivery. But what about the days you don’t get any orders? Does Instacart pay you when you don't have orders?

No, if you don’t find any orders available and can’t complete them, Instacart will not pay you. The shoppers can earn money only by completing orders. This is a purely on-demand gig and you will not get paid for the time you spend waiting.

Now that you are aware of whether you will get paid when you don’t have orders you might be curious to know about Instacart’s payment policy. It would be useful to know how and when Instacart makes its payments if you want to work for them. Most importantly how common is it for you to get no orders as an Instacart shopper? I will address all these and more in the rest of the article.

What Is The Payment Policy For Instacart?

Instacart is one of the greatest food delivery services out there right now. Instacart gives its drivers an amazing opportunity to make some extra money. Along with making some extra cash, the drivers also enjoy a flexible work time and get to keep 100% of the tip they receive.

The shoppers get to make money simply by shopping for groceries for their customers and sometimes delivering the items. Instacart will pay their independent contractors only after they finish their orders. Other types of in-store shoppers are considered part-time employees and receive their pay as an hourly wage.

The exact amount Instacart drivers get is only an estimate. The company doesn’t enclose any official data on how much the workers get paid at an hourly rate. However, Instacart does advertise that during busy times drivers can earn up to $25. The estimated number is that Instacart drivers make about $15-$20 on average per “batch” without considering the tip.

Instacart’s pay structure and schedules are complex and take into consideration different types of factors such as the number of items, the size of the items when the order is placed, and others. So the pay will vary a lot depending on the location, time, demand, and the items.

For example, you get paid more when you are shopping for more items during peak hours. But during less busy hours the same number of items won’t bring in the same amount of pay. Since the workers are independent contractors the earning and the number of the batch you get is never guaranteed.

But this can turn into an advantage when there are more batches available. You can turn this simple delivery gig into a full-time job as you have flexible hours. Additionally, you will get tips and bonuses when you receive 5-star ratings. You will get to keep 100% of the tips you get and most customers give more than a 5% tip.

When Does Instacart Pay You?

Instacart pays its workers weekly. Both In-Store and Full-Service Shoppers get paid on Wednesday. Instacart pays their workers via direct deposit and the pay will reach you on Wednesday morning if you have direct deposit set up. But if you don’t have a direct deposit set up, you will get the payment by a check via mail.

You get paid for the work you do for a week from Monday through Sunday. You will get paid for the whole week’s work the following Wednesday morning.

How Does Instacart Do Payments?

Instacart pays their workers on Wednesday for the previous week’s works via direct deposit. Both In-Store and Full-Service get paid this way. The direct deposit will be to the worker’s savings or checking account. Many don’t have direct deposit set up but don’t worry. Those who don’t will receive a mail via check from Instacart.

Full-Service shoppers enjoy a service named Instant Cashout. Using this service they get to make an immediate transfer to their debit card. This is a great way to get access to your earnings a bit faster.

The Instant Cashout option is only available after you complete five batches. After this, you are allowed to cash out at any time you want but only up to five times per day. But you have to have at least $5 in your earnings. There is also a limit to the maximum amount you can cash out in a day. You can’t cash out more than $3,000 a day.

Something full-service shoppers should keep note of is that they are considered independent contractors. So Instacart doesn’t withhold taxes from their earnings unlike they do for their part-time employees. So if you are a full-service shopper you will need to estimate your quarterly tax payments.

How to Get Batches in Instacart?

If you are an Instacart shopper, it must be your priority to claim the orders for good batches. But there may be times when they will not pop up as frequently or you may not be getting any at all. For your earnings to be maximum, it is a must to catch good batches. If you are having a hard time with getting batches to let me share a few tips with you:

Set an alert

The first thing you should do is setting an alert to catch more batches during busy hours. If there are enough shoppers during a time slot then other shoppers lose the chance to catch any batch. Setting a simple reminder on your phone will be extremely helpful to let you work as much as you want before you lose your chance.

Take a careful note of your shopping list

You don’t want to waste time coming back to the same aisle again and again when you are shopping. So beforehand, make sure to take a clear look at the whole shopping list and make a note of which items are in the same aisle or section. This way you can grab all the items quickly and efficiently.

Get a 5-star rating on Instacart

According to Instacart, if you have a good amount of 5 stars, you will be prioritized to get more access to batches. So make sure to communicate well with your customers, deliver their groceries as soon as you can and get good replacements when you are shopping. These are simple stuff but are sure to get your ratings up.

Be more familiar with your local store

Make sure to familiarize yourself with your local stores. This way you won’t take much time to look for items in different aisles in different sections. The faster you are the quicker you can get started on your next batch.

Move with Care and Speed

The faster you are with your delivery, the more satisfied your customer gets. This will boost your ratings greatly and send more batches your way. But they may be in vain if you manage to injure yourself in some way. So make sure to be careful when you are moving about.

Don’t overthink your decisions about replacements

It’s best if you don’t fret over the replacements of the item that isn’t available. You can simply choose one of the options for replacements your Shopper app provides and move on. This way your customer won’t stay waiting and you can finish a batch quickly.


The timing makes a huge difference. There are certain times of the day when the highest paying batches will be available. You should make sure to take note of the time. For many people, the morning just after the grocery stores open is the time when high-paying batches become available. So take note of such timing for your area.

How Much Can You Make A Day With Instacart?

It is not easy to come up with the exact number of how much you can earn with Instacart. The pay rate of Instacart shoppers depends on several variable factors. The pay of a single batch will be determined by the number of items, distance traveled, size of the items, weight, and others.

Moreover, most of the earnings you receive are the tips you get from the customers. The tip can be anywhere from 5% to more and depends on how satisfied they are. So it is difficult to come up with a solid number of how much you might earn a day as an Instacart shopper.

The full-time shoppers get about $7-$10 per batch. For the ones that are delivery-only, you will get paid $5 each time. Including these, there are tips and a bonus of $3 that a shopper receives for a 5-star rating. So if you catch about 7-10 batches a day, you will be able to earn about $100. But again these are not guaranteed numbers and only an estimate.

To give your earnings a boost, it is best to choose your orders a bit more carefully. The larger orders or the ones that are heavier lets you earn a bit extra. Compared to a small shopping job, the bigger ones pay more. The bigger your order is, the more you will get paid. 

You may also want to keep track of when the demands of customers are spiked. So during the opening hours of the stores, or Sundays when people are more likely to spend their time home or during popular events is when you want to keep track of. During a Super Bowl, the chances of getting a larger order are more likely than any other average day.

Since full-time shoppers are independent contractors you can do as much work as you want. You are your own boss and can earn as much as you want when you want. Some people managed to earn about $8,000 a month but also people who only earned $3,000 a month. The number of earnings will depend heavily on how much work you can take.

However, it is different for part-time employees. They do not get any bonus or tips as they are not interacting with any customers. The pay they get is $13 per hour and does not sum up to much since they only get to work 29 hours each week.

How Common Is It for Instacart Shoppers to Get No orders?

It is very uncommon for Instacart shoppers when they do not get any orders. The app is designed to always show you batches that you can accept. You can keep refreshing to see the new ones pop up. But the orders are extremely fast to get accepted by other shoppers. So you should claim the orders as fast as you can before they get claimed by others.

Before you get frustrated over not having many orders show up, you should know how the algorithm works. The shoppers with a 5-star rating have more access to batches than those with lesser ratings.

Usually, even if you are a new Instacart shopper, you will see batches pop up in your app. They might pay you less, about $10-$15. However, as you keep claiming them and receiving better ratings, the number of batches you get will increase as well.

But if you have a rating that is below 4.98, you might be seeing lesser batches. Even so, you are bound to get some lesser paid batches.

With Instacart, shoppers get to make money by shopping for groceries and delivering for many customers. It is an easy and efficient way of making money as the demand for Instacart shoppers is higher than ever. You might be a shopper looking to earn some extra cash during this heavy demand of Instacart shoppers.

But slower days come when you might not get any orders. If you are worried about whether or not does Instacart pay you when you don't have orders, then this article has explained everything concerning this topic. I hope you have gotten your answer and will not worry when you are making your earnings. Thanks for reading till now.

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Author Ferdi
Written by Ferdi Vol
Ferdi Vol has been working for a grocery store for the last few years and he knows all the ins and outs of running a grocery store. He's also got great tips about what you need to know as a customer, from getting the most out of your money to knowing where everything is in the store! Ferdi loves sharing his passion with others via his blog on how to have an awesome shopping experience at your local grocery store.
About Ferdi Vol
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